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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lake Conestee Nature Park in South Carolina

Lake Conestee Nature Park is a quiet natural area located just six miles south of Greenville, South Carolina. The 400 acre park is situated along three miles of the Reedy River and its surrounding wetlands. It offers visitors passive recreational opportunities such as walking, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, wildlife observation, and photography.

The original lake was formed in the early 1800s when the Reedy River was dammed near the community of Conestee. The dam provided power for several mills that were located along this part of the river, including paper and cotton mills. The dam was raised to its current height in 1892. The lake was once significantly larger than it is today, but over the years sediment from upstream has filled in about 90% of it. Today the lake is approximately twenty acres of shallow wetlands. The former lakebed is a flood control basin for the Reedy River, providing protection from flooding for areas downstream.

There are three miles of natural surface trails and two miles of paved, handicapped accessible trails at Lake Conestee Nature Park. Trails lead through hardwood and pine forest and past meadows that were once farmland. There are boardwalks over wetlands, a bridge over the Reedy River, and several observation decks. Trail maps are located in kiosks at all trailheads.

A variety of wildlife may be observed in the park including deer, beaver, and more than 150 species of birds. South Carolina Audubon and Bird Life International recently designated the park as an "Important Bird Area". The park's observation decks are perfect for wildlife photography. Picnic areas are located near the park office off Fork Shoals Road. Boating and swimming are not allowed at Lake Conestee.

Lake Conestee Nature Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. There is no entrance fee. There are four points at which visitors may park and access the trailheads. At the northern end of the park there is a paved trail off Henderson Avenue. On the west side there is a paved trail and parking area at the intersection of Fork Shoals Road and Whitehorse Road Extension. Another trail access is located behind the Belmont Fire Station on Fork Shoals Road. This trail is not handicapped accessible. The park's only restroom facilities are located at this trailhead. The south end of the park may be accessed off Spanko Road by the Conestee Dam. Visitors to the Greenville area may enjoy a quiet walk through this picturesque natural area.

G. Carpenter is the General Manager at the Holiday Inn Express Simpsonville hotel. The Holiday Inn Express Simpsonville is located just south of Greenville and only minutes from Mauldin, Fountain Inn, Laurens, and the Greenville Zoo. The hotel located just off I-385 at exit 27 with easy access to I-85, I-185 and I-26. This property offers a full range of services and amenities to make your stay exceptional.

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